A police official has called the Norway terrorist a “right-wing” Christian fundamentalist. And, of course, prestigious media outlets rushed to trumpet this shining nugget of factual integrity. Which, apparently, came as a surprise to the terrorist himself. He would like us all to know that he doesn’t even have a relationship with God.
From his 1,500 page manifesto:
So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian. (emphasis mine)
Well, that’s a new definition of “Christian” I’ve never heard before!
But I think what he’s saying is that plenty of people are cultural Christians –they might herald from Christian families and/or traditionally Christian nations but deny the very tenets of the faith themselves. It’s like Michael Corleone from The Godfather hitting the church for his baby’s baptism while also calling in a hit on his rival.
Michael Corleone was no more a Christian than the Norway terrorist, but to listen to the media, it’s almost like they can’t distinguish between violent, psychotic whackos and your garden-variety Christian who believes Jesus was God incarnate. Oh, wait. What? Does that mean EVERY Christian is a fundamentalist? Yes, and probably an evil murderer-in-waiting, too!
The real problem, here, is not Christianity. The issue is fundamentalism–a worldview that infects believers and non-believers alike. I’ve met vitriolic atheists just as often as I’ve met vitriolic Christians. Their beliefs–or non-beliefs–had nothing to do with their rigid mental outlook. It was the black-and-white mindset that was to blame for their hateful perspective.
The Norway terrorist isn’t a Christian fundamentalist…he’s a cultural fundamentalist.
What I define as a fundamentalist is someone who wants to reform, change or improve the culture using methods that contradict their own religion’s teachings.
A moderate form of this are fundamentalists who oppress women under the guise of “Biblical marriage.” An extreme form of this are secular fundamentalists who proposed eugenics as a means of “improving” the human population.
Fundamentalism is hurtful insofar as it artificially elevates non-essentials (ie. personal preferences, cultural ideals) or pet doctrines (“improved” human population) and encourages their propagation through harmful methods.
The Norway terrorist had 1,500 pages worth of pet doctrines. Maybe he was a cultural fundamentalist.
But he was no Christian.